Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What I've Learned From Living a Healthy Lifestyle

According to myfitnesspal (an amazing app I'm using for counting calories and tracking exercise), I've logged in for 49 days so far!  I've made it through a month and it feels like such an accomplishment. ヽ(*´Д`*)ノ  I've also lost 4 kg~!!! 

I found out about myfitnesspal through a nutrition class I was required to take a few years ago.  I remember absolutely hating counting calories.  I thought it was depressing and a nuisance.  But that was when I was younger and stupid.  Counting calories has never been easier.  I think it's improved greatly over the years because now, it's an app available on the phone where you can conveniently scan a barcode on a food product.

On top of counting calories, I've also taken up treadmill running.  I try to run every other day and I've started to up that to a couple more days a week. ᕙ(⇀‸↼‶)ᕗ  I just need to keep in mind that a person should always allow their body at least one day a week off from rigorous exercise.  For in-between days, I do a thing called 'cross training' with lighter exercises like power-walking, yoga, and/or pilates.

While living this brand new lifestyle, I've found some interesting things along the way.  Especially for losing weight.  I would love to share these new found revelations to anyone who's interested in the adventure of a healthier lifestyle.
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1. Your body is a temple for your soul.
Both are connected spiritually.  If there's something wrong with the soul, the body will suffer and vice verse.  Basically, take good care of your body and your soul will benefit greatly.  Of course, don't forget it goes the other way around too. :)

2. If your body hurts while doing something listen to it.
This is a saying where most people will nod their heads and make remarks like, "Obviously, that's common sense!"  But how many people actually take their own advice?  Not many seeing that so many people hurt themselves doing stupid things like expecting their body to do something it's not ready for or is incapable of doing.  If your body hurts doing something, be it eating or exercising, that probably means that you shouldn't be doing that.  Just stop, listen to your body, and avoid unnecessary injury to yourself.

3. Fast food and heavily processed food really is BAD for you.
Last night, my sister bought some Burger King and I ended up eating an entire medium fries that night (I know, so bad of me...).  I recall enjoying it but it really didn't taste as good as I thought it would (probably since I've abstained for so long and enjoyed mostly fresh foods).  The next morning, the lower part of my abdomen felt like it was all twisted inside and it was really painful!  I also found some interesting info on processed food, particularly instant ramen noodles (which I'm also guilty for).  A study was done on how quickly the noodles broke down through the digestive system.  There was a comparison of fresh food and the processed ramen noodles.  A camera was installed in a pill and consumed to follow both foods through the digestive tract.  It was pretty disgusting because it took so long for the ramen noodles to break down.  Ramen noodles are made to survive a world catastrophe.  They contain a preservative called tertiary-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) which is a petroleum bi-product that will, as I simply put it, really f*ck up your body.

4. A good session of cardio will do wonders for your skin, and the results are immediate!
To achieve an immediate clear complexion, just do a 30 minute session of cardio (and make sure you sweat it out).  I've noticed that my skin always looks really good after even a short 30 min work out.  Probably from all the toxins being released through sweating.  Forget spending tons of money on expensive facial products.  Want instant results?  Just sweat it out and you'll see the difference right away.

5. When treadmill running, don't force the body to run too fast too soon.  Take it slow, you'll definitely get to the speed you want.
On the first day that I decided to try treadmill running, I noticed that my body was sort of shocked into it.  Before this, I've never done any kind of cardio exercise for years!  I made sure not to run too fast and even researched the proper way to run.  What I didn't know is that I should have slowly worked up to certain speeds.  I found that a good way to do it is to work from speed walking, around 3.5 mph, and stay at that for 5 min.  From there, work up to the next speed every 5 minutes.  If the next speed is too much for you, stay at the lower speed and build your endurance.  This makes all the difference when treadmill running because you're slowly working up to the next level without pushing your body too hard. 

6. Take small bites and chew slowly while eating.
It's always good to appreciate and savor the taste of food instead of gobbling it down as fast as you can.  I know it's sometimes difficult not to, especially when you're running late and just wanna down your breakfast as quickly as possible.  It takes about 20 minutes for one's brain to realize the stomach is full.  This is why it's imperative that people eat slowly.  I think it's actually nice to take your time and enjoy the taste of the food you're eating.  I feel like when I do this, I can appreciate the fresh taste of healthy quality food and understand that THIS is what good food tastes like.

7. Your stomach will shrink when you eat less per meal.
After putting the tip above to good use, I've noticed that I eat much less per meal than what I used to eat.  If I eat more, I feel bloated.  I like to go by the Japanese motto where one should only eat until they're about 80% full.  This will prevent any unwanted feelings of having eaten too much.

8. Always have a healthy, low kcal snack on hand.
This is for all you fellow snackers out there, especially late night snackers like myself.  I've found that it's an awesome idea to have a low calorie and healthy - somewhat healthy snack on hand.  The reason this is a good idea is because for those moments of light hunger, if you don't have an easy light snack ready to grab, it's tempting to go for some unhealthy convenience food like those oily chips or that sugary cookie.  A healthier snack can be fruits, vegetables, nuts, rice crackers, tea, lightly seasoned chips, you name it.  As long as you stay within your kcal limits and these snacks aren't overly processed or have high amounts of saturated/trans fat and sugar/sodium, the sky's the limit. 
[If I make a list of my own healthy snacks, I'll add a link here.]

9. When counting calories, if you're going to estimate, you should overestimate instead of underestimate.
This is a tip from my previous nutrition instructor.  She said that if one wishes to lose weight, it's always better to overestimate kcals instead of underestimate.  This is because people in general have a tendency to underestimate the amount of kcals they're eating when they're actually eating more.  Not only that, but people also have a tendency to overestimate how many kcals they burn while exercising. 

10. Salad CAN be a meal.
I never thought salad could be filling.  I learned that it's all about using the salad as a 'base' and adding all kinds of nutritious goodies to it like hummus, avocados, nuts, chicken breast, grapes, and pretty much anything else you think is tasty and healthy.

11. Don't be alarmed if you appear to be stuck at a certain weight.  
The body does this to stabilize.  It's not uncommon for you to stay at a certain weight for a while during the weight loss process.  It's not an easy thing to change one's body composition.  We all know about homeostasis.  Let the body do its thing and don't feel like you need to rush and lose weight 'fast'.  Doing things too fast has never been a good thing for the body, and this includes losing weight.  Also remember that we all have 'water weight' which can fluctuate weight between 1-2 kg or more.  Plus, if you're in the process of losing weight and eating less calories, your body will retain more water because it's breaking down carbohydrate and protein stores which releases water.

12. Green tea helps with weight loss.
It's scientifically proven.  Green tea activates certain enzymes in the body to break down extra triglycerides that are responsible for being stored as excess fats.  And although green tea may not be as effective as say, a diet pill, it's much safer and healthier for the body.  Along with its weight loss/maintenance benefits, it's also packed with antioxidants to detox the body and has anti-aging properties.  Just keep in mind that tea is known to block the absorption of iron and calcium.  So if you want to absorb those things, save your tea for a few hours later.